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(LEAD) GE picked as preferred bidder to supply engines for KF-X fighter jets

All Headlines 15:37 May 26, 2016

(ATTN: REWRITES headline, lead; ADDS photo, more info last 4 paras)

SEOUL, May 26 (Yonhap) -- U.S. company General Electric (GE) was selected on Thursday as the preferred bidder to supply engines for South Korea's next-generation fighter jets, Seoul's state arms procurement agency said.

GE has been picked as the supplier for the Korean Fighter Experimental (KF-X) program, according to the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA).

European engine maker Eurojet Turbo GmbH and GE had been vying to become the engine provider for the 18 trillion won (US$15.3 billion) project that calls for building 120 locally made twin-engine combat jets.

Seoul aims to deploy the new planes starting in the mid-2020s to replace its aging jet fleet of F-4s and F-5s.

The DAPA said that it plans to clinch a contract with GE next month after holding negotiations over the terms of the deal.

It earlier said that it will seek to finalize the basic designs for the plane by September next year and come up with a detailed design by January 2019.

As part of efforts to push for the project, the DAPA last month selected domestic defense manufacturer Hanwha Thales as a preferred bidder to produce an advanced radar system to be installed onto the fighter jets.

The KF-X project has gained a boost from the U.S. pledge to transfer some of its jet technologies. But Seoul is facing the challenge of finding an alternative supplier for four core technologies that Washington cannot hand over.

sooyeon@yna.co.kr
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